PRINCETON — About 18 dogs and puppies have been removed from a home where the owners hoped to breed and sell them after conditions were found to be unhealthy both for the dogs and for humans.

The canines were removed from a home in the Hatcher area of Mercer County after the owners voluntarily surrendered them, said Animal Control Officer Elizabeth Syres.

“It was a hoarding case, but all of the animals were an owner surrender,” Syres said after the dogs were removed Wednesday.

Animal control had been working with the owners, who were not charged, since May, she said.

“The original complaint was a neighborly dispute, which is how we found out about it,” Syres recalled. “We’ve tried to work with the owners since May. We were finally able to go into the home (Wednesday) and do an ammonia test. That was the way we could determine it was no longer safe for the animals to be in the home.”

Five puppies that were about 3 months old were among the dogs taken to the Mercer County Animal Shelter along with some other puppies that were born in September last year, Syres said. There was also a female and male dog, and the remaining dogs were pets.

Dog breeders must have the proper licenses from their county courthouse as well as the proper facilities for dogs.

“I honestly think it was their intent to try and sell the puppies, and they did not have a breeder’s permit or a kennel license to be able to do so,” she stated. “In order to do that, you have to have a minimum of eight breedable females. In this case, these people, they really didn’t understand there was anything wrong.”

This lack of understanding the requirements for being a breeder was why the owners were given the option of giving up the dogs voluntarily, Syres said.

“They were very cooperative,” she added. “They were super cooperative about it.”

Syres said the animal shelter was working to get the dogs to rescue organizations, and that there was a rescue commitment for some of them as of Thursday.

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